Friday, April 18, 2008

The Animatrix -- Matrix' Humanistic Backstory

One of my favorite movies is The Matrix. If you liked that movie, you will find The Animatrix fascinating. This is a collection of nine short animated movies telling the backstory of the world of the matrix. These nine shorts are created in different styles, some more “realistic” than others, each intriguing.

The first three are the strongest. Starting with “The Flight of the Osiris” which tells the story of the ship Osiris as it tries to warn Zion of an imminent attack. This is set in the time of The Matrix Reloaded. The second and third stories, “The Second Renaissance Parts 1 & 2,” fill in how the earth came to be under the control of the machines with humankind acting as their energy cells. “A Detective Story” is a film noir of the Sam Spade variety, where P.I. Ash is hired to track Trinity. But the last short, “Matriculated,” is as confusing as the final Matrix movie, filled with Beatles-like psychedelic colors and themes. A group of humans is trying to “convert” the machines to their reality, not as slaves but as “freed” machines.
In “The Second Renaissance” the main character, the instructor, says, “In the beginning, there was man. And for a time, it was good. But humanity's so-called civil societies soon fell victim to vanity and corruption. Then man made the machine in his own likeness. Thus did man become the architect of his own demise.” And later, “And Man said, 'Let there be light'. And He was blessed by light, heat, magnetism, gravity, and all the energies of the universe.” So much has been written on The Matrix trilogy, on the parallels with biblical faith. Others see elements of Buddhism or new age beliefs. These quotes make it plain that the Wachowski brothers are pulling almost verbatim from the Scriptures. But they are infusing them with a humanistic spiritualism that is opposed to the tenets of Christianity. For example, in the short “Kid’s Story” when the kid sees Neo, he says to him: “Neo, I knew you would save me.” And Neo replies, “I didn't save you kid, you saved yourself.” According to the makers of The Matrix, we don’t need a savior, we can save ourselves.
Without writing a thesis on The Animatrix (and it is worthy of such an endeavor, though not here), I want to highlight three ethical issues that emerge from the movie. First, in “Program” Duo says, “Maybe you regret taking the red pill.” In so doing, he puts regret firmly on the table. Do we ever regret accepting Jesus? If we have taken the “red pill” of Jesus so we can now see reality as it is, if we have tasted the goodness of God, would we regret it? Could we regret it? Faith with regret might be a false faith.
Perhaps regret is not the issue, but doubt might be. Here is the second ethical issue. Do we ever have doubts? Is our faith that solid that doubts never occur? I think not. Faith without doubt is an untested faith. God tests us, so that our faith might become stronger, just as he tested Abraham when he commanded him to sacrifice Isaac (in Genesis 22). When doubt comes, it is an opportunity for us to test our faith. As Pastor Morris Dirks said recently, "He who has never doubted has never believed. It is not doubt, but what happens with doubt, that's crucial. Doubt destroys unworthy faith." And Tim Keller, in "The Reason for God," said: "A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic." If our faith is not strong enough to stand up to our doubts, it is not a good enough faith to support us for eternity.
The third issue is ecological and environmental. The instructor tells us, “So the leaders of men conceived of their most desperate strategy yet. A final solution: the destruction of the sky.” In an attempt to win the war against the machines, mankind destroys the sky and in so doing destroys the natural environment. This is a deliberate strategy in the movie backstory. But how are we destroying environment in reality? Or how are we saving the created order. God in creating mankind gave him the cultural mandate, to protect the world. It is our duty to live in ways that allow other species to live, to keep nature as pure as possible. We cannot and must not actively seek to profit off the earth’s resources if it cannot be sustained.

Copyright 2008, Martin Baggs.

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